The following letter was sent to a concerned SCI member who was curious about the SCI Foundation’s support of the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Department. The following is my reply which goes along way in explaining our Foundation’s scientific position, in support of the legal issues, tackled by SCI.
-Joe Hosmer, SCIF President
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Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXX:
I have had a couple of your email messages forwarded to my attention. I find your concerns well warranted and certainly worth a response. Before I dive into the details, I want to thank you for your concerns and for bringing them to our attention. I have also asked Dr. Al Maki, Chair of our Conservation Committee to follow up with a call. Al is currently elk hunting but will return in a couple weeks and will call you directly.
Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) involvement with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MT FWP) is primarily within the realm of predator-prey interactions. It is not exclusively wolves. Most notably, elk calf recruitment in areas occupied by wolves has declined, so the work is focused upon improving elk populations. SCI Foundation has partnered with MT FWP to determine which factors may be contributing to the decline in elk calf survival. To what degree does predation, nutritional status, and weather contributed to the poor performance of elk, in parts of Montana. Unfortunately, it has only been speculation until this scientific study was initiated. This science-based information is exactly the type of data that will be used in the next MT FWP elk management plan. As hunters and even wildlife biologists, we can probably all speculate, but we all truly need scientific data to base our arguments on.
SCI Foundation partners with state wildlife management agencies because they are the ones who are entrusted to manage wildlife for the benefit of the people, in this case Montanans. Providing sound data is a major component of making informed, science-based management decisions. We know from our experience that the implementation of management prescriptions, firmly rooted in science, is simply more likely to stand up in the courts. Groups that operate only on emotional justifications, rather than the facts, are usually defeated. We all know that these emotional groups undermine the great contributions hunters have made to wildlife conservation in North America. We work alongside state wildlife agencies not only because we must abide by their regulations, but we are also the beneficiaries of good wildlife management.
History has shown that predator eradication campaigns have resulted in the removal or change of the management authority, from the States, to the Federal Government. Further restrictions placed on the ability of MT FWP to manage a state-trust species could adversely impact producers, landowners and hunters. Again, we believe that it is imperative to have strong science to support SCI Foundation’s position on these various issues. If we can scientifically demonstrate the adverse impact that wolves are having, and present a viable plan for mitigating the impacts of the current management strategy, then we will have the greatest chance to influence wolf management decisions.
In summation, funding projects that work toward the improvement of science-based game management, has always been deemed a successful investment, by your great organization, the SCI Foundation.
I hope these points help clarify our involvement and better explains our motives. Your concerns have not gone unheard. Thanks again.